Monday, December 29, 2014

Lost in Papua

Goodbye to our American-Japanese friends, off to catch a plane to Miami. It's been great seeing them.
Stand by for a tenuous link… I've been reading Lost in Shangri-la by Michael Zuckoff, an account of a plane crash & rescue operation in what was, not eastern Tibet as one might think, but Dutch New Guinea in May 1945 at the tail end of the Pacific War. Of the 24 U.S. army personnel on board, only three survived, finding themselves in the middle of a remote, unexplored* valley inhabited by 'stone-age' tribes who constantly fought each other and often resorted to cannibalism, plus there was the added spice of a few hiding Japanese soldiers. Possibly.
Luckily, a rescue plane spotted them and two medics were parachuted in to tend to their injuries. But how to get them out? The jungle was too impenetrable to walk through, the air to thin for a helicopter and nowhere long enough to land a conventional plane. So what they did was to land a glider, which doesn't need much of a runway, which was then snatched back up by a regular plane with a hook, flying very low. They both then flew back to the airbase, one towing the other, before landing separately. Amazing.
Incidentally, much to the disappointment of the world's press, the 'natives' were friendly and there were no Japanese.

[* Actually, unbeknownst to all concerned, it had been explored, by Richard Archibold in 1938]

No comments:

Post a Comment